Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ak Tash

My imagination was spurred in June during a trip to Tash Rabat, located in the southern portion of the At Bashy Range, for the climbing potential of the area. Tash Rabat is an ancient stone structure dated to the 15th century that was used during the height of the Silk Road. Today, local and international tourists travel to the area to visit the stone structure with its beautiful dome that still remain tucked safely in the mountains.

Ben and I traveled to the area following our mountaineering trip in the northern portion of the range looking for rock climbing, rest and relaxation. The impressive overthrusts of the limestone cliffs are incredible aesthetic and from a distance it appeared that climbing and exploration would be abundant. Dozen of eagles continually soared above us riding summer thermals only disappearing when returning to their nests in the cliffs.The area we were in is know as Ak-Tash which means white rock. However in three days of exploring we were unable to find routes with protection opportunities with traditional climbing gear. We also struggled to find any top roping locations. The climbing potential is incredible and many walls looked like they could hold dozen of sport routes. However I would hesitate to promote bolting in the area given the remote location of the area and the abundant eagle nesting.

As our original intentions changes we started spending more time with my local friends from a previous visit who run on of the yurt camps in the valley for tourists coming to Tash Rabat. Sabyrbek and his family allowed us to live in one of their yurts and I took to helping them cook, clean and do chores. The few tourists that filtered through during the week seemed to think it strange that an American was "working" in such a remote place. I have found that helping is the quickest way to peoples hearts and the best way to understand the life and intricacies of a culture.

Our week ended on not the best notes as Ben succumbed once again to intestinal issues. We retreated to At Bashy and then to Bishkek. A week of rest and calorie recompensation for Ben has us feeling strong and eager to return. Today we head back to At Bashy for our last three weeks exploring, climbing and sharing life with local people.

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